This is a short one, because its relevance is only for 24 hours from the time of writing.

On Thursday, tomorrow as I write, Tory MPs will decide which two of the three remaining, as it were, candidates for the leadership will be put before the membership.

Obviously Theresa May will be one of them, so the choice between the other two is what matters now.

Andrea Leadsom has been in Parliament for six years, and has no Cabinet experience. She has admitted that her City CV could be “misleading”, though a former colleague went rather further, and she has, alone among the candidates, refused to disclose her tax details. The most charitable explanation for the latter is that there’s something in there that is perfectly innocent, but would take time to explain, over and over, and she doesn’t want that distraction from the political issues. If that is true it’s a miscalculation on her part, and it looks ugly. But within government she also has the reputation for being baffled and clueless under pressure, as indeed she was in her hustings to the parliamentary party. And she is a recent convert to Euroscepticism who briefly shone on platforms with Gisela Stuart at her side. Most people still don’t have a clue who she is.

Michael Gove has been completely consistent in his views on the EU throughout his career in journalism and politics, has held two Cabinet posts, and has been a zealous reformer in both. His background is transparent, and he is the most articulate conviction politician in Parliament. 

Apparently, facing a huge majority in the vote of MPs for their candidate, Theresa May’s supporters are encouraging the “spares” to vote Gove, because they think he will be easier to beat in a vote of the membership than the novel and female Leadsom. They reason that he is disliked by the blue-rinse backbone of the constituency associations, among whom Boris was only slightly less popular than Bruce Forsyth, for taking a knife to their cuddly toy. 

They may be right. I don’t care. What matters is that the candidate opposing Theresa is the authentic voice of principled, intellectual hostility to the EU project, and someone of proven competence and steel. The membership must have a real choice set before them. It’s Got to be Gove.


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